Henry Williamson as a "Romantic Fascist"? : the origins, context and applications of Henry Williamson's aesthetic and political ideas
This thesis investigates the ideas of Henry Williamson through his writings, particularly in the two novel sequences, The Flax of Dream and A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. An analysis of his ideas illuminates the interaction between the political, social and religious notions which mirror his support for fascism during the inter-war period and loyalty to Oswald Mosley after 1945. The thesis explores the context and nature of Williamson's ideas about life, while attempting to explain his support for fascism, as well as the degree and manner in which this was expressed through his writing. There is no intention to provide a biography of his actual life experience. The thesis is based on Williamson's published work, combined with the mass of correspondence conducted with friends over a period of fifty years. This study establishes that Williamson's writing, though supportive of Mosley's brand of fascism and including a form of 'historical revisionism', is generally right-wing and nationalist rather than overtly fascist. The dominant themes in his writing - purity, energy, 'realism' and a hatred of decadence - suggest connections with the fascist metaphysic. Formative experiences as a child, youth and soldier, combined with his reading of not only Richard Jefferies but also D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy, provided the base for his ideas. He reshaped strands within the European Romantic and Idealist traditions, in effect superimposing these on an avowed hatred of self, and personal despair. Three factors make this thesis a significant contribution to knowledge. Firstly, no detailed analysis of Williamson's ideas has been undertaken to date. Secondly, the ready availability of Williamson's novels and role in contemporary culture renders it important to establish the nature and political implications of the ideas contained in his writing. Thirdly, his attitude towards fascism facilitates our comprehension of the appeal of fascism during both the inter-war and post-1945 periods.